‘Twelve Angry Jurors‘ is one of the best ensemble productions I have seen in a while.
Twelve Angry Jurors, adapted by Sherman L. Sergel, based on the Emmy-winning television movie by Reginald Rose, directed by Tom Lazarus and produced for The Group Rep by Stevie Stern.
You would think with a cast this size some characters could get lost in the shuffle, however, director Tom Lazarus has made you feel as though you are the 13th juror on this remarkable case.
The Group Rep cast features the talents of Linda Alznauer (Juror 4), Jane Bonem (Guard), Paul Cady (Juror 2), Belinda Howell (Juror 10), Stephanie T. Keefer (Juror 11), Stan Mazin (Juror 9), Bob McCollum (Judge), Richard Reich (Juror 7), Mark Stancato (Juror 3), Melissa Strauss (Juror 1), Neil Thompson (Juror 8), Cathy Diane Tomlin (Juror 6), Mouchette van Helsdingen (Juror 12), Tamir Yardenne (Juror 5) and Tilly Ye (Juror 6 – Feb. 16 – 18) as the jury.
Following the closing arguments of a murder trial, the twelve members of the jury must deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused, an inner-city teen. As these normal citizens try to reach a decision, one juror casts considerable doubt on the elements of the case.
The jury is a melting pot of varying backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds including Juror 12 who represents an “outsider” point of view considering she is an immigrant.
We don’t know the suspect’s identity or race, but based on the references to “them” and “those” people, you can safely assume he is non-white.
“Slums are breeding grounds for criminals,” remarks one juror about the condition of the building where the crime took place.
Conscious bias is evident throughout the play as jurors attempt to fight obvious flaws in the prosecution’s case, some are hell-bent on convicting the suspect. As they continue to pour over the evidence many are willing to take witnesses and the prosecution’s assertions at face value, while Juror 8 forces them to think more critically due to the man’s life being at stake.
The women jurors came across as more amenable to changing their verdicts, while the men are angry at the mere suggestion of the teens guilt. The lead you to believe they have had a run in with one of “them” and were taking out their anger on the man’s who life they literally had in their hands.
In between contemplating alternative perceptions of the evidence, they take continuous votes to see where the jury stands.
One by one the pendulum swings in contradiction of their bias.
It is easy for the audience to transform into one of the jurors as you listen to the evidence and their meticulous re-enactment of key details as they rehash them. The acting was superior in their ability to keep you engaged with their emotional performance.
This jury represents any modern-day jury and I left intent on answering the call the next time a jury summons graces my mailbox.
The Production Team: Tom Lazarus (Set Design), Frank McKown (Lighting Design), Shon LeBlanc (Costume Design), and Steve Shaw (Sound Design) did an excellent job of transporting us to the 50’s from the noises on the street, the hues of the jury room and the period costumes makes Twelve Angry Jurors a must-see for theatre lovers.
Twelve Angry Men was originally written by Reginald Rose and broadcast in 1954 as an episode of the “Studio One” CBS TV series. He later wrote the screenplay for and co-produced the 1957 movie with actor Henry Fonda, who played Juror No. 8. It was adapted for the stage in 1955 by Sherman L. Sergel from the television script.Since then, the play has been performed on Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre in 2004, where it ran for 32 weeks, and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play.
12 Angry Jurors has a running time of 90 minutes with no intermission. It is playing through March 3 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre – Main Stage located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood.
For tickets and information visit www.thegrouprep or call 818.763.5990.